Adolescent bullying is the new childhood obesity: Something that's been going on forever, but only recently became a popular sympathetic cause thanks to some celebrity-driven awareness initiatives. But to be fair, Hollywood has been calling attention to bullies since the days before the remote control. (Yes, there really was a time when TVs didn't have remotes.) We can go as far back as Little Rascals to find bullies on TV, but here are some more recent bullies of all ages:
Nelson Muntz (The Simpsons)
More often than not, your paint-by-numbers schoolyard bully eventually has that moment when he or she comes to grips with the real reason behind their bullying, changes their ways, and makes friends with at least one of their victims. Nelson is not that bully.
While he and Bart Simpson have had a few moments of collaboration and some experiences that could even be called friendly over the last 20 years they've been in the fourth grade, it never lasts long. Most of the time when Nelson shows up, somebody is getting punched in the stomach. Even after he was publicly humiliated by a very tall man in a very tiny car in one episode, Nelson went right back to terrorizing Springfield Elementary and sparing no citizen of Springfield his signature "ha-ha!"
Joey Caruso (Everybody Hates Chris)
Considering that Everybody Hates Chris is based on Chris Rock's real life, I wonder if the redhead, smart-aleck, big-boned Caruso (Travis T. Flory) is at all based on Rock's comedian friend and sometimes co-writer Louis C.K.
Junior high Chris' early attempts to psychologically get the best of Caruso failed in the show's pilot, kicking off four seasons' worth of blindside punches, stolen lunch money, chocolate stains on brand-new sweaters, getting stuffed in lockers and "colorful" nicknames.
Wayne Arnold (The Wonder Years)
The world's worst big brother since Kane. OK, so Wayne (Jason Hervey) wasn't that bad -- noogies and wet willys aren't going to kill anybody -- but he was a constant source of stress for his already high-strung little bro Kevin (Fred Savage). Of course Wayne wasn't purely evil, and we saw his protective older brother side on occasion, but anybody who watched The Wonder Years will never forget when he took out that poor hamster with a vacuum cleaner.
Carlene Cockburn (GCB)
Before its debut, I thought GCB would be nothing more than Desperate Housewives with a Southern accent, but the show's writers have done a good job of giving the characters back stories that make this a different dynamic than that of Wisteria Lane. Instead of introducing us to ladies that are already close friends, GCB's core group is a mix of former high school bullies and victims who have flipped the script as adults.
Carlene (Kristin Chenoweth) is a former bully victim who has risen to de facto leader of a powerful clique, and has turned her venom toward Amanda (Leslie Bibb), the show's protagonist who used to be a bully in high school. While most male bullies use fear of physical violence as a weapon, Carlene uses fear in a different way: She's well aware that people fear public embarrassment ("What will the neighbors say?"), and uses that to her advantage whenever possible.
Coretta Cox (The Steve Harvey Show)
There are "mean girls," and there are girls that are just mean. Coretta (The Lady of Rage) was the latter. The most notorious bully at Booker T. Washington High School, she had everybody from the jocks to the teachers afraid of her. She threatened girls into being her friends and strong-armed guys into being her dates -- but at the end of the day, Coretta turned out to be a big little girl looking for friendship. It took a group effort, but eventually Steve and Regina (Wendy Raquel Robinson) convinced Coretta to let out her softer side, which included admitting her dream of wanting to be a fashion designer.
(Lady of Rage)